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Solskjaer-Guardiola Off-field Battle Intensifies Pre Manchester Derby

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Just hours before the match Manchester United’s Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer issued a pre-derby warning to his players. In his statement on Tuesday, Ole said that his team should be ready to be kicked at old Trafford on Wednesday.

“There will be fouls. They will snap at your ankles and heels and kick you,” Ole said generalizing the expectations he has from the opposition.

“Did he say that? With 65% or 70% possession, how do we do that?” said Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola in utter disarray. “I don’t like it. My side is not built like that, not at all,” he added condemning Ole’s comments.

Rumored as brutal on the field, Man City has even earlier been accused of committing ‘tactical fouls’ on the field, as per their manager instructions.

However as per the reports, City are bewildered about the fact that United let Ole speak about the issue, even when the stats present a completely different side of the story. According to the numbers issued by Opta, City have conceded 170 free-kicks this seasons, while the city’s red counterpart has conceded 195.

Likewise, City’s players have picked 38 yellow cards and a red card in the league, while United’s player have been shown 64 yellows and four red cards.

“In 10 seasons as a manager, I never prepared for a game thinking about these thing. Never,” said Guardiola. “In football, you sometimes do that [foul] because the actions are so fast. But I never said we should do it to punish an opponent or cancel them. Maybe after the game you can ask him in the press conference,” he added.

However, Solskjaer’s comments still cannot be completely bashed because of what transpired in November 2018, when the teams last met in the Premier League. Guardiola at that time was reportedly given a formal warning by the Football Association for speaking about referee Anthony Taylor.

Presently, the league is evenly poised for both the teams, with United aiming to finish in the top 4 and register a Champions league spot. Meanwhile, City looks to defend their title in neck-to-neck battle with Liverpool.

Also, as referee blows the kick-off whistle in the Old Trafford, the off-field comments and the heated exchange will surely bring some brutality from both sides of Manchester to the game.

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FIFA: 2022 World Cup 32-team Expansion Plan Adjourned

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FIFA: 2022 World Cup 32-team Expansion Plan Adjourned

The mystery about the number of teams that will play the FIFA World Cup 2022 has finally been put to rest. The world football governing body FIFA said Wednesday that 16 more teams won’t be added for the Qatar tournament.

There was continuous dilemma on increasing the number of contesting teams from 32 to 48. In March, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said, it was possible to expand the size of the tournament, provided “certain conditions are met”. At that time, he also said that doing so would require the nation to share the hosting rights with neighbouring nations.

As per earlier reports, the World Cup would have expanded to Kuwait and Oman, had the decision been announced otherwise. However, it will now remain as it was planned originally and no new proposal will be submitted at the next FIFA Congress on 5 June.

“Following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process with the involvement of all the relevant stakeholders, it was concluded that under the current circumstances such a proposal could not be made now,” FIFA announced Wednesday.

Following the news, Qatari World Cup organizers said that their nation had always been open to the idea of expanding the tournament, had a fitting framework been found. With Just three-and-a-half-years left until the World Cup, the event is expected to invite in lot of people from all around the globe.

In November, even UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said adding 16 more teams to Qatar 2022 could create “many problems” and described the idea as “quite unrealistic”.

In 2010, FIFA announced Qatar as the host for the 2022 edition of the World Cup. Following the announcement, the Gulf nation became the first ever Middle-East country to be given such a privilege.

On the other hand, FIFA has already agreed that the 2026 edition will be contested by 48 teams and that the tournament will be jointly held by Canada, Mexico and the United States of America.

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Eden Hazard’s Move to Real Madrid Still Remains Somewhat Controversial

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Chelsea’s star Eden Hazard and rumours around his move to Real Madrid, which were finally put to rest by the Belgians, is struck by another challenge before he finally moves to Madrid. As per reports, though it is confirmed that the club is prepared to sell him this summer, the perils of a transfer ban still lingers on.

As things stand, if the club frees Hazard to let him go for free next year, the move would cause repercussions for their Financial Fair Play figures. The Blues are currently holding out for £87million for the 28-year-old forward, who moved from Lille and still has a year left on his contract.

One of the finest players the game has ever produced, Hazard’s name has always been taken after the Messi’s and Ronaldo’s of the game. The club reportedly spent months trying to convince Hazard into extending his contract, yet the player decided otherwise.

It looks clear that the Blues won’t hold Hazard for another year, even when they are dealing with a FIFA transfer ban, especially when the club’s business framework relies on selling players.

In the last one year, Stamford Bridge has seen massive signings with Jorginho for £56m, Kepa Arrizabalaga for £74m and Christian Pulisic for £57m. Besides loaning Gonzalo Higuian, who will have to return to his full-time club Juventus following the transfer ban.

On the other hand, Blues’ Manager Maurizio Sarri has also been approached to replace Max Allegri in Juventus, and Chelsea have assured that they won’t intervene in Sarri’s decision. Allegri announced that he will leave Juventus, post winning Italy’s Serie A for the five times.

Sarri only has a year left on his contract, and as per initial reports, he is also interested in the offer made by Italy’s old lady.

Nonetheless, the next big thing happening for Chelsea is the Europa League Final, where they will face-off against Arsenal. For Hazard it should be his last match at the club, and the star would like to sign-off with another accolade. Correspondingly, for Arsenal, apart from the big finale, it is also a chance to register a spot in the Champions League next season, which their opponents are already assured of.

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Man City Crushes Watford; Adds FA Cup to Much Coveted Trophy Cabinet

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Last updated on May 20th, 2019

The juggernauts of English football, Manchester City, only a week after winning the Premier League have now added the FA Cup to their cabinet. Crushing Watford by 6-0 on the night, the champions of England marked another emphatic feat for the club.

Blooming in the Sky Blues, Pep Guardiola’s army at Wembley scored for fun, as the Hornets looked despaired and annihilated by such level of performance. Just like the final day of Premier League, City started as favourites, but never really let expectations pressure mount to them.

Guardiola hailed Manchester City’s feat, claiming the feat ‘bigger than winning the Champions League’. The competition where they were undone by Spurs in the last-8-stage. With victory over Watford, City have also become Triple champions across English leagues.

Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus each scored twice, while David Silva and Kevin de Bryune netted a goal each on the day. The margin of triumph for City is also the biggest since 1903 in the FA Cup Final.

However, winning the Europe’s most elite league for the first time, still remains a holy grail for Guardiola, who has certainly come to party with his team walking out as favourites each match day.

“It means being consistent every three days during 10 months,” said Guardiola. “I love the Champions League, but do that (the treble) is more difficult than winning the Champions League,” he added.

Meanwhile, Watford’s wait for a their first ever major piece of accolade still goes on, as the team now looks forward to accomplishing their dream in 19/20 season.

Though City were dominant on the night, but the result still could have been different had Roberto Pereyra not messed up with first chance to break the deadlock. “You have to score that chance if you want some chance to win the game,” Watford boss Javi Gracia expressed after the match.

There was no returning from that point for Gracia’s team, as the Sky Blues’ sheer dominance made each effort by the Hornet’s cry foul. City have now won all the 11 meetings between the two sides, since the takeover by UAE’s Sheikh Mansour, a decade ago.

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Antoine Griezmann to Hang his Atletico Madrid Boots for Barcelona

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Antoine Griezmann to Hang his Atletico Madrid Boots for Barcelona

Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann has announced that he will leave the club five years after he joined from Real Sociedad. The Frenchman, who has driven his club to new heights will part ways on Saturday in his last game against Levante.

Barcelona is understood to have shown the maximum interest in buying the player, yet there are rumors that English clubs Arsenal and Manchester United are also looking forward to signing him. According to BBC, Barcelona will pay the buyout clause in Griezmann’s contract of 120m euros.

“It’s been an incredible five years. Thank you for everything,” he said. “Wanted to tell the fans who have always given me a lot of love that I have taken the decision to leave, to see other things, to have other challenges,” the 28-year-old added, in a video posted on Twitter.

In what has been an absolutely phenomenal journey for Antoine Griezmann, his record at club with 133 goals in 256 appearances speaks volumes about the talent. Besides, the world cup winner has also lifted Europa League, the Spanish Super Cup and UEFA Supercup since joining back in 2014.

Barcelona made the offer to Griezmann even last year, which was rejected by the 28-year-old. However, Atletico Madrid alleged at that time that Catalan Giants reached the player without any legal procedure.

Griezmann will be the third player to leave the club, amongst other prominent names this summer. Before Frenchman, Lucas Hernandez agreed to join Bayern Munich, and the side’s captain, Diego Godin also announced his departure. Though club still retains the likes of Diego Costa, Koke, and Thomas Lemar, but it would still be a tough ask for the them to fill in the shoes for the outgoing campaigners.

On the other hand, with a severe possibility that Antoine Griezmann would join Barcelona, Philippe Coutinho’s position will also be under a shadow of doubt. The forward hasn’t been in the best of the forms since leaving Liverpool for Barcelona, January 2018.

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Manchester City Crowned English Champions for the 4th Time

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Manchester City Crowned English Champions for the 4th Time

Last updated on May 14th, 2019

The title race between Manchester City and Liverpool, which went down to the last match day, once again crowned defending Champions Manchester City as the Premier League winners.

By winning 14-in-a row to being crowned again as the English Champions, Manchester City not only gave their fans all the reasons to celebrate, but also proved why they are the worthy winners.

Despite going a goal down to Brighton (1-0), City did not let the nerves play their part and replied with a goal only a minute after; courtesy Sergio Agureo. The Champions never really looked back from that position, eventually winning (1-4) on the night. With the victory over Brighton, the club has now added 4 league titles to their cabinet.

“I think it was the hardest and most satisfying,” Man City captain Vincent Kompany told Sky Sports, “reflecting on his three previous titles with the club.”

The win meant that Citizens finished on 98 points, second most points in the Premier league history. Interestingly, the record for the most points is also associated to their name, which the club achieved by scoring a perfect-100-point in the 17/18 season. With the back-to-back titles, it also makes them the first ever team since Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United to have achieved this feat.

On the other hand, in what was a remarkable season for Liverpool, the hunt for maiden Premier League title still goes on. Ending on 97 points, solitary point behind City, the team would have never thought of finishing second, especially after losing only a game in their 38 match weeks. For Liverpool another big night awaits in Madrid where they will face-off against Spurs for the Champions League glory.

“We have to say congratulations to Liverpool and thank you so much — they pushed us to increase our standards,” Pep Guardiola, Manchester City’s Manager, told Sky Sports.

“It’s incredible, 98 points, to go back to back. We made the standard higher last season and Liverpool helped us. To win this title we had to win 14 in a row. We couldn’t lose one point. It’s the toughest title we have won in all my career, by far,” he added with a sigh of relief on his face.

Meanwhile, the English Champions are also to face Watford in the FA cup final, where they will look to add another piece of silverware to their exceptional season 18/19 season.

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